• February 17, 2020

UTPB nursing partners with detention center - Odessa American: UTPB

e-Edition Subscribe

UTPB nursing partners with detention center

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2020 3:26 pm

The program is aimed at about 22 fourth semester BSN students who will graduate in May.

Diana Ruiz, assistant professor and director of the Simulation Center at the College of Nursing, said she has taught the population health course for almost two years. Part of the course teaches public health core competencies and how they tie into the BSN essentials.

“But an accompanying course that they take is the clinical component and when I took over this course a couple of years ago, the clinicals (were) very traditional so it was health departments and things of that nature. That’s a great experience, but they’re limited in how many students they can take and they’re also limited in what the students can actually do based on what that health department provides so our students are actually having to travel out of town to go to other health departments to do some more hands-on care,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz, the faculty and instructors brainstormed to figure out how to meet the needs of the students and the community.

“I think there is a lot of emphasis in health care right now to shift into the community and out of the hospital. As crazy as that sounds, we actually don’t want people in the hospital. We want them to be healthy. We want them to be well in the community and so this partnership really just came from Jennifer and I brainstorming what else can we do? Where are we going? What can we do that’s innovative, and of course, our didactic component talks about caring for vulnerable populations. That definition can be children; it can be the elderly; it can be those with disabilities; but it can also be the incarcerated population. We’ve never had that opportunity to do that so we reached out …,” Ruiz said.

The Jennifer Ruiz is referring to is Jennifer Swendsen, nursing faculty and clinical placement coordinator. Swendsen has toured the detention center.

“They assured me that the students would always be with their direct nurse. They would never at any given time be left alone. Everything is secured and locked, so once you leave toward the offices and back to the detention center where the inmates are kept, it’s all locked doors …,” Swendsen said.

The inmates will be considered low risk and nonviolent. Swendsen said the inmates also will be completely supervised.

There are several small exam rooms that are close together so the students won’t get lost. The detention center said it could handle up to three students at a time, but Swendsen said they are sending two.

Ruiz said the students’ purpose will be to use the clinical skills they have learned in previous semesters.

“These are senior students. These are fourth semester senior students, so they will graduate in May. The year and a half prior to this, they’ve learned these great clinical skills and now they’re going to kind of help those become a reality. They’ll help the nurses in their screening, maybe assessing the inmates, helping the nurses if they need care coordination or resources for the inmate,” Ruiz said.

“Then they need to understand how we provide compassionate care to the vulnerable population. We are not here to judge. We are not here to blame. Really as with any patient we provide care for, we have to set aside our personal beliefs, our personal opinions as to what may or may not have happened and provide the best care for that patient. Period,” Ruiz added.

Ruiz said everyone would go to the detention center at least once.

“I think this is going to be a learning experience even for us as faculty. I don’t know exactly what all they can manage in the detention center. I know it’s typically more acuity — things they can do; chronic disease management; diabetes; high blood pressure, things of that nature. But I think anything acute is when they would definitely send them to the hospital setting,” Ruiz said.

Swendsen said inmates make a request if they’re not feeling well and the medical staff has a certain number of hours to respond. They also conduct tuberculosis testing.

Ruiz noted that inmates are already vulnerable because they’re incarcerated and they don’t have the freedom to go to the doctor right away.

Swendsen said if an inmate gets a broken arm they wouldn’t necessarily be able to handle it in the detention center so they would likely be sent to a hospital.

“Within any setting, regardless of whether it’s incarceration or in a nursing home, or a mental health site, anytime you have a large group of people living under one roof, if you will, sometimes even crowded homes there’s always that risk of tuberculosis. Right now we are in peak flu season. That is definitely a concern. I think that’s another objective that the students can look at,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said the visits will be observational since it’s “our first time to dip our toe in the water …”

Students have to keep a journal and write about what they saw that day, how it made them feel and whether it advanced their skills.

“It’s going to be a really neat semester for us. We’re really excited about it,” Ruiz said.

She added that students are required to take part in the detention center observations.

On Jan. 7, Ruiz was on the city council briefing agenda to discuss a partnership with the City of Odessa with code enforcement.

Jordan Sosa, clinical instructor for public health, said students will have the opportunity to go on ride-alongs with code enforcement.

“What they’ll get to do is see the different systems that are in place to keep this city healthy as a whole. That could be code requirements for buildings, safety environments for restaurants; things like that. It’s going to be very much a day in the life. They’ll get to go with a code enforcement officer and see the things that they monitor throughout the day, so every students’ experience will be different depending on what’s going on in the city that day. Hopefully, it will be varied and they’ll get a lot of good experience,” Sosa said.

The connection to public health is that it takes in the health of the entire community, not just one person. Sosa noted that there are programs in place in the community that can assist people with obtaining things like running water.

“… It’s very much all the way back to the stem of health as a whole. Your access to resources, the safety mechanisms that are in place to make sure we don’t have any bugs in our water or anything like that,” Sosa said. “… It’s very much different from traditional nursing. It’s just all the way back to the stem of what could cause problems and a proactive way to prevent problems.”

Sabrina Williams and Emmanuel Wekesa, fourth semester bachelor of science in nursing students, said they are excited about the detention center and code enforcement partnerships.

Williams said her mom was a nurse in a prison for a long time so she’s interested to see what her mother went through. Her mom is a licensed vocational nurse in Fort Stockton currently.

“I’m a little nervous, but I think you should talk to them like any other person. I think sometimes health care can lack in that setting and I’m excited that we get to experience it and maybe work there one day,” Williams said.

Wekesa is interning at Midland Memorial Hospital and is from Kakamega in western Kenya.

“I think it’s exciting because we get to be part of the community engagement and we get to see the community part that we as students don’t get too much of,” Wekesa said.

He said it wasn’t a surprise that the students would get a chance to visit the detention center because being an intern he’s seen some inmates come into the hospital. He said it will make him more empathetic to their needs.

Wekesa said there are few nurses in Kenya. He said his aunt is a teacher at Odessa College and he has an uncle who is a nurse.

“So ... having the opportunity to come to UTPB to be a nurse was really mind blowing because now I can achieve my goal and hopefully help someone else achieve their goal one day,” he said. “I like to help people.”

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Humidity: 43%
Winds: SW at 7mph
Feels Like: 46°

Your Extended Forecast


High 79°/Low 45°
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 40s.


High 49°/Low 36°
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid 30s.


High 44°/Low 37°
Chance of afternoon showers. Highs in the mid 40s and lows in the upper 30s.
Online Features

Pet Central


Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>



Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>



Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>



Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7314 to sign up today.